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What Would You Tell Southern California Edison?

Several locals and leaders had the chance to tell Southern California Edison their reactions to the 2011 windstorm power outages throughout the foothills and San Gabriel Valley. What would you tell Edison?

There were plenty of and community members on Thursday.

Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) questioned the World War II-era power poles and how to best respond to people with medical needs.  

“A lot of those poles look really old and look like they’re carrying a big burden,” Schiff said. 

SCE conducts routine inspections and replaces old poles, said Ron Litzinger, President of Southern California Edison. He added the utility is "investing billions in replacing infrastructure for poles, some that were built during World War II."

"Primarily we tried to get the most customers per repair and we tried to get the customers with power out the longest," Litzinger said.

Schiff also questioned how SCE responded to people with disabilities or emergency medical needs. 

“One concern I’ve had though is what about concerns where you have elderly people, people on respirators, how do you prioritize?” Schiff asked.

Crescenta Valley Town Council Member Mike Claessens asked why Southern California Edison didn’t give accurate time estimates for residents without power or rely on local emergency crews from throughout Los Angeles County.

"So many were left in limbo," Claessens said. "They were given misinformation and they were told they were going to get power back and they waited three days and some five days." 

Claessens suggested an ombudsman - a mediator who could work on the ground and tell residents times for power restoration in a more 'old school' approach. Sheriff’s deputies were guarding downed wires, when Claessens suggested that they help kids get to school through crosswalks. 

SCE did not request assistance from local emergency crews, something that shocked Claessens. 

"I was surprised to hear that you hadn’t asked for assistance because there are some highly trained people in Pasadena, the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County," Claessens said. 

Improving overall communication was something the panel agreed on. 

“We find that people are upset, they’re not as upset if you level with them and say ‘look there’s massive trees down and they can plan for it," Litzinger said. "But if they’re told 12 to 24 hours by an automated system then they’re not going to be very happy when that doesn’t’ come true. We have a lot of improvements on that front.” 

Dr. Sandra Thomas, Altadena Town Council Member, told the group of community members and local leaders how Altadenans reacted and what they handled the damage. 

"Being in Altadena, that was the part of the San Gabriel Valley that took a major hit during the windstorms," Thomas said.

"We were pretty much paralyzed. We couldn’t go anywhere," Thomas said. "Trees were down, power lines. I want to take time to thank our providers for everything that they tried to do for us. I chuckled that at the fact that in Altadena everyone emailed everyone. Useless, nobody had power. But we did find that in our community we started going door to door. You had to go out, get to your neighbors."

Thomas requested a better plan from SCE. 

"I need somebody to bring me to a win, and by that I mean, we need a short-range plan. How are we going to reach people now?" Thomas asked.

The California Public Utilities Commission will hold a Public Participation Hearing regarding the power outages from the windstorm in November in early December. 

The hearing will be held on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Temple City High School's Performance Hall, 9501 Lemon Ave., Temple City. 

"A CPUC Administrative Law Judge and Commissioners will be present to hear your comments and experiences resulting from SCE's response to the storm. Although a quorum of Commissioners may be present, no official business will be conducted," according to a public statement from SCE. 

Anyone with questions and claims related to damages allegedly caused by SCE related to the wind storm power outages can speak to representatives at the hearing. The Consumer Affairs Branch of the Commission will be present to assist customers who want to file an informal complaint on any matter pertaining to the wind storm. 

Anyone who needs special accommodations, such as sign language interpreters or foreign language interpreters, can contact the Commission at (415) 703-2074, toll free at (800) 849-8390, TTY toll free at (866) 836-7825, or regular TTY at (415) 703-5282 at least three business days prior to the meeting.

SandraT January 16, 2012 at 08:12 PM
SCE made obvious errors that MUST not be ignored. But I don't have a lot of confidence that the matter will be addressed in a fruitful manner. Did you know that after that shooting at the Irwindale location, the security at other local SCE branches was stepped up, but in the following manner: Prior to the shooting, all employees gained access to the building with a swipe of their I.D. cards. After the shooting, from managers on down, security personnel now must visualize that the badge matches the person wearing it when entering the building. For executives, the entire floor they're on is virtually locked down when the top brass is in. The execs are extra-protected. Keep in mind that the gunmen targeted his two MANAGERS. How to Make Friends and Influence People, hmm, SCE?
Brian January 16, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Well how about $99 for an 800 Watt generator at Harbor Freight Tools? With tax you're looking at about $110. If you can afford that, you can live a normal life when the power goes out, keep the food cold and run a small television set and light. BE PREPARED. That is the name of the tune here. Obviously SCE and State utility commission will be looking into delays in order to better plan for these outages. One thing that was found is that many power poles were overloaded by overly heavy transformers and the wind snapped them like toothpicks. Sometimes it takes an event like this to examine all of the weaknesses in the system - including homeowners / residents who need to better prepare themselves.
Lisa Hastings January 17, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Buy a generator. That will solve the problem.
SandraT January 17, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Perhaps Edison would consider buying us ALL generators. ;o)
Andy Krinock January 17, 2012 at 03:52 AM
Would you like food stamps with your generator?

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